First Solar Sells Its California Flats Project
The California Flats project
On August 22, 2017, First Solar (FSLR) sold its 280-megawatt (or MW) California Flats project to Switzerland-based asset management company Capital Dynamics for an undisclosed amount. The PV power station is spread across 2,900 acres of ranch land in Monterey County in southeast California. The project is still under construction.
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What sets the project apart?
Once the project’s construction is complete and it is fully operational, it is expected to generate solar energy to serve ~100,000 homes annually. It will supplant more than 109,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. According to company filings, “the project will also displace over 152,000 metric tons of water consumption annually based on the average California grid.”
In February 2015, First Solar (FSLR) entered into a 25-year agreement with Apple (AAPL) to sell electricity from 130 MW of capacity. Apple invested more than $850 million as part of the deal. Pacific Gas and Electric (PGC) agreed to purchase the remaining 150 MW in 2019.
Impact on the industry
Historically, when investing in renewable energy projects, companies have opted for wind power instead of solar power. Apple’s investment was a positive step for First Solar and the solar power industry, influencing other companies to choose solar energy sources. Falling photovoltaic cell costs have also promoted solar power.
Google (GOOG) now uses both wind and solar power sources, while Microsoft (MSFT) has a 25-year contract to purchase power from a 20 MW solar project in Virginia. In 2016, Amazon (AMZN) invested in solar panel projects. These companies are part of the S&P 500 (SPY). Continue to the next part to read about First Solar’s global markets.